Lucky continues to gain weight and muscle. He is in a regular program now where he comes in, gets a grooming and tick-picking (yuck) if any, then tacked up, and learns to lunge. The learning part is getting better and better. He is doing well on that for a 5-year-old. It’s hard to teach an older horse something they should have known as a baby, but he’s alright with it. Don’t forget these racehorses have been on exercisers and hotwalker machines that drag them around in circles, so they know how to balance themselves in a 20-30m circle; the strange deal is the long line attached. He’s already of course been broken to ride and raced so saddle and bridle is not new. My purpose in teaching him something new is to assess his attitude and get him comfortable with stopping, starting, steering, and balancing without me in a vulnerable position. He has not been ridden in over five months so every step we take towards our ride has to be slow and deliberate. I am not as young as I was and don’t bounce like I did; this horse is well over 16.2 hands. I want to be sure when I get on him the first time that we’ll be absolutely fine.
Today, as in previous days, he shows a little attitude when girthed, and again when bridled. Today, however, I really got after him by yelling at him and glaring at him when he fussed as the girth was done up and got the “I’m stand still, O KAY”. The bridling goes a bit smoother each day, I know he is reluctant, but once the bit is in, he is fine with it. The peppermint treats always help that.
We are pushing a bit each day to trot a bit longer on the circle, to walk a bit better, to relax and not worry about getting to the gate (or getting the mouth pulled on as a result). He keeps his ear on me a bit longer each day. He challenges me less each day as he learns what is wanted, and realizes that the work effort I ask for really isn’t too much. He wants to find out where the limits are, to see how much I will allow him to do as he pleases. I need to change his attitude slowly and gradually, over the months, to “what are WE doing next?” from “how soon can I go back to the barn?”
He is gaining weight and muscle but his skin is still dry in spots. Until he’s in good weight, this is likely to remain a bit dry in patches as there’s no extra fat to go around. I am keeping the fly sheet and mask on all the time to try and relieve that poor little tail. I will condition it today before he goes back out tonight. That’s all I can do. He is in the barn under a fan eating hay at present and will go back out after dinner.